During 23 years with the BBC, and a 40 year journalistic career (when he was trained to use simple language, avoiding jargon), scandals have always been a mainstay for our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry, as has now unfolded at the Welsh fourth channel, S4C, with bullying allegations and the sacking of TWO senior officials, and now the heat should turn on the man ultimately responsible – the Chair, Rhodri Williams.
Previously he has described how he was helped to break into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and made clear that the ‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.
He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Cymru Wales (BBC CW) TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off.
Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of ‘history’ is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.
Heads should roll after what has happened.
Siân Doyle was Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Welsh fourth channel, S4C, but when she was off on ‘sick leave’ she was sacked, and she has bleated that she had been “dismissed by the Chairman of S4C, Rhodri Williams, in what I believe is an unprecedented lack of governance for a public body”.
She has added: “I was dismissed by letter, without notice, without a meeting, without seeing a copy of the Capital Law report (on bullying in her former organisation) or any evidence, without a right of appeal, and without proper grounds”.
Now we hear, incredibly, that after the release of that report Ms Doyle attempted to commit suicide by taking an overdose, and her husband, Rob Doyle has claimed it was “one-sided” and “the last straw”.
Yet the report into the “bullying and toxic culture” she had presided over took many months to compile, 92 people were spoken to, and it cost £350,000.
Then there is the unbelievable case of Ms Doyle’s appointee, Llinos Griffin-Williams. She was also dismissed from S4C (as ‘Chief Content Officer’), after just over a year and a half in the job following allegations of gross misconduct, but in a letter sent by her lawyers she said that she was left “utterly devastated” by her “unfair dismissal”.
Ms Griffin-Williams has declared she was dismissed by Mr Williams, but that he had “acted unilaterally without the knowledge of the senior management team…and the S4C board”.
This should not be the end of the matter, and there is now a powerful argument for putting S4C into special measures, as has happened following a series of scandals involving the Metropolitan Police (Met).
The man now in the firing line is the person at the top, Chair Rhodri Williams.
After all he was the one who named Ms Doyle in the CEO job (in which she had only been for TWO years!), and she then brought in Ms Griffin-Williams.
Mr Williams has a controversial background, and this may now feature in any examination (if it happens) of what occurred.
In his previous role as Wales Director of the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, he spent much of the time at the organisation’s London HQ, and in years gone by, was accused of sabotage on three occasions.
Mr Williams was also sacked by the broadcaster HTV after it discovered he may have been plotting to take a valuable contract from the company.
In 2001 Wales’ biggest independent TV production company dismissed him, too, after he had been accused of dishonesty when he was caught allegedly diverting a contract to a rival firm.
But Mr Williams has shown defiance, stating for example: “When asked about my potential involvement in a rival bid for the current affairs contract in July 1989, HTV invited me to pledge my allegiance to the company’s bid.
“I refused to do so and my employment at HTV was terminated by mutual consent with a compromise agreement.”
Mr Williams has, as well, taken legal action when previous contentious events have been highlighted, and he has been awarded several thousand pounds in libel damages.
Ms Doyle herself has also emphasised his supposedly problematic past.
Following her sacking, she has proclaimed that she had faced “unfair treatment, and wider bullying” from Mr Williams.
However it surely would not be ‘unfair treatment’ of him if he was now asked to carry the can, when the woman he appointed was sacked after only two years in the job amid bullying allegations, and one of her senior executives was also shown the door when she had only been in the role for just over a year and a half.
Details of Phil’s astonishing decades-long journalistic career (including his years in broadcasting, although NOT in S4C), as he was gripped by the rare and incurable neurological condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in an important book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now.
Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.